Africa: Daily HIV Prevention Fails for Women

Daily vaginal gels or drugs have been proven ineffective for women at preventing infections of HIV in southern Africa, says a study published on Monday. The study says that the majority of women did not use them as they were directed.

The results were from over 5,000 women in 15 places including South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. A spokesperson for the study said that although there might be other explanations as to why the products do not work at times to prevent HIV, it is difficult to ignore that very few of the women in the study used them correctly.

Through blood tests, it was detected that the different medications were present in less than 33% of the participants in the study who were assigned to take them orally. In addition, less than 25% of those assigned the gel to apply actually did so. The study also found that the women who were the least likely to use the gel or take the assigned drugs were under 25 years of age and unmarried – the group that is at the highest risk of becoming infected with HIV.

Clinical trials previously, amongst other sectors of the population, have shown that taking a daily dosage of tenofovir or Truvada worked well in lowering the risk of being infected by HIV. However, even drug treatments that are highly effective fail if not used, said researchers.

Even though the trial results were disappointing, researchers insisted they underlined how important it was to find better preventive strategy for the women.

Around 9% of women under the age of 25 who are not married are infected with HIV, found researchers, which is much higher than the less than one percent of married, older women.

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